Jukeboxes vs Hard Drive storage


Senior Member
While being able to load movies up on an MCE machine has been great and is real easy to use, it sucks up hard drive space at a rapid rate (I went through over 250GB without even scratching the surface).

After looking at some of the costs (I have several hundred titles, and within my collection are a lot of tv type titles with many disks), and have been leaning towards integrating a jukebox and then loading up the MCE machine with a 'speed rack' setup with the most popular titles and any series of disks that I wanted to watch.

Anyone have any thoughts or recommendations?

It would be ideal if one of these jukeboxes could be interfaced with, but I'll have to look into that further.
Hard drives are really cheap now. If you strip the extra features, soundtracks, and the fullscreen version from that DVD disc, you can store much more (this is what I do). Ironically, I finally ran out of space as well this weekend. You also might want to look at 500GB drives which are now available.
If you have a couple hundred DVD titles, you will be in the multi terabyte storage size for uncompressed DVD main title only. (5-7 gig / title). You will want Raid5 and you should use hardware, not software RAID (IMHO). You will also have to upgrade the PC powersupply. And a case big enough for all the drives, and the cooling to go with it. I also keep a spare new drive around for when one croaks in the Array (which it will). This setup gets expensive. Couple grand and up depending on how many terabytes.

You could use Kenwood or Sony 777 serial connected DVD jukeboxes. Then you will find that I don't believe MCE supports this. You will then look into Cinemar's DVDLobby / MainLobby suite.

If you search on Cinemar's forum, you will find a ton of posts on this issue. GregoryX has responded dozens of times to the same question.

I use a combination of Changers and Hard drives. Popular stuff on HDrives. DVDs are in their cases on a shelf.
Thanks, that makes sense. I'll take a look at those. The other thing that occurred to me, if the jukebox index was known on a PC, you could probably just control it via IR.

I love the concept of everything being available online (which is even better when watching something on multiple DVD's), but the cost to do it right (all disks) is too high at this point, even though drives have gone down tremendously. Especially considering the jukebox costs. The low end sony one (no serial) is about $300 and it upconverts (can you do that through MCE?)) and stores 400 disks. So for $600 and change you can have 800 disks available (lets say you strip half out that is still 3.2TB, which at RAID5 with controllers, enclosures, spares....)

I'm thinking use the pc for a speed rack, and get jukeboxes and focus on my other projects (finishing the elk setup, cameras, homeseer or other automation software, etc). The price of drives will continue to drop during that time as well.

Given that most of them I will not watch that frequently (although I probably would if they were all online) and that in 12 months it will probably be 40% cheaper, I think I'm going to take the hybrid approach.
i've been converting my dvds to divx format (mpeg 4 variant). after stripping out all the extras, menus, etc & compressing to divx, my movies are anywhere from about 800MB-2GB (including AC3)
Hmm, that could be interesting. What are you using to convert to Divx? That should bring it down to a more reasonable storage requirement (a few thousand is too high for me using the original approach) and I do really like the concept of this.

I have not used Divx at all, it sounds like it gets better compression. Is there any impact to quality?
Most of the video files I have are recorded tv programs - not copied DVDs. I've played with Divx as a storage format but I've ended up just using mpeg2. The Divx files can be much smaller and the quality as good as the original files.

The reason I'm not using Divx for storage is because the amount of CPU required to play them back is higher than mpeg files. One of the ways I view these files is through a Hauppauge MediaMVP. It can play mpeg2s using on-board hardware. So, the only drain on the file server is serving the files. The MVP can also play Divx files, but these need to be transcoded on the server (eating up valuable CPU cycles, especially since that's also my HomeSeer machine).

I do convert to Divx files to watch movies on my PDA, usually during flights or airport waits.

I have a lot of these files on hard drives, but it just gets too expensive. So, I've started burning mpeg2s to DVDs as data files. These will not play in any DVD player I've got (they will play in a Philips 642 if you've got one). But, they will play through the MVP. I can pop the disk with a movie on it into the DVD drive on the server (a USB/firewire external drive) and navigate to it on the MVP. It's not quite as convenient as having them immediately accessible on the hard drive, but it's a lot cheaper.

i use a bundle of apps called gordian knot - http://gordianknot.sourceforge.net
there is also autogk, which is more automated (link on the above site)

you can adjust the quality to suit your preferences. it does take time to convert to divx. i have an amd athlon xp 2800+ w/ 1 GB ram and a typical movie takes about 3-3.5 hours to convert.

GK guides:

i use a DSM-320 ( http://www.dlink.com/products/?pid=318 ) for playback in our master BR and in the FR, our amp has built in divx decoding (kenwood fineline vrs-n8100), so cpu utilization is not an issue for playback.
I am against compressing DVD's as well. You will lose quality, it's easier for artifacts to appear during dark & fast scenes, and as smee mentioned, the CPU overhead. I guess it doesn't matter if you have a regular TV, but if you have a mini home theater system or better, I would think quality matters (unless you are as blind as a bat :blink:)
Well I just use a sneakernet to play my DVD's here.... capable of unlimited tennashoebytes of storage.




i don't have an HDTV so i can't comment on how divx movies look on one. but you can adjust the amount of compression depending on your tastes. maybe somebody w/ an HD set can take a DVD & compress it using various bitrates & tell us how it looks.
it looks bad, I tried it :blink: If you have a regular TV, then I wouldn't mind the DivX method, my older HTPC hooked up to my 31" TV has most of my movies stored that way. One other disadvantage of DivX is that it is much harder to fast forward etc. when using MCE.
Hmm, thats not going to work then (I didn't think about the effect on the picture a different compression scheme would have and was thinking it might just be better encoding...).

I will be playing this on a 61" screen. I tried some old video cd's I had after I got the TV. The quality was not good when I originally got them on a smaller screen, on this one it was not a pretty sight.

I'm thinking the speed rack approach will work well, then tie in some kind of changer. I guessing I could get the lower end Sony jukebox and automate it using the Ocelot once I get everything in order (cuts the DVD price in half, I've had bad luck with DVD players having issues after the warranty ends so I'm inclined to go with the cheaper one, but I have to go back and compare the specs.

I have a friend that has the older sony one (low end) that does not have upscaling and he was very happy with it (using it on plasma screens). Plus since it upscales, won't it look better using the DVD player than the computer (I have not seen what upscaling looks like, I suppose I need to take a trip to the local av store)?

On the storage side, I'm also guessing that we will have multi-terabyte (well at least one TB) drives at a price point under $200 within 18-24 months or so (maybe a little agressive, but probably not too far off). Then it's simple and not crazy on the wallet. You don't have to worry about enclosures (can put everything inside the PC), the onboard motherboard SATA adapters will support RAID 5 (this is already here for some boards I believe). Right? Of course by then the discussion will be regarding HD media which then soaks up all that storage again...
Keep in mind that you don't have to store the DVD's on the HTPC, you could store them on a network drive, or spread them over several servers. But you are right, there will never be enough HD space :blink:
Great advice so far. I keep my DVDs / MP3s on a network server so it's accessible by all of my media center machines. I currently have a (8) 300 GB drive RAID 5 Array, but believe it or not, I'm running out of space, so I'm doubling that.

My solution for storage of media:

(8) 300 GB Maxtor Diamondmax SATA drives (current)
(2) 3ware 8506-8 RAID5 SATA controller (1 current, 1 to be installed) - Watch Ebay
(1) Supermicro 5 drive external enclosure (Newegg link) (current)
(2) External 4 drive enclosures with LCD reading (From this site)
(Not received/installed yet)
(8) 300-500GB drives (not purchased yet, waiting for best deal)

Current space for media is 2 TB, not including other small servers, and when I finally get the rest of the equipment, I'll have 4-5 TB. That should keep my growing collection, well, growing.

Keep an extra drive onhand for each array in the event of a failure as was mentioned by a wise person earlier in the thread.